The Philadelphia Eagles had high expectations going into the 2015 season. Chip Kelly and his staff were not afraid to make moves in the offseason after the team traded away Nick Foles for Sam Bradford.
They also made the biggest move of free agency by snatching DeMarco Murray away from the Dallas Cowboys. After adding Walter Thurmond and Byron Maxwell in the secondary, the Eagles looked like possible contender on paper.
However, the Chip Kelly experiment did not work out for the Eagles at all. They got off to a slow start and simply couldn’t recover. The team’s turning point in the season came when they lost three in a row to non-playoff teams, the Dolphins, Buccaneers and Lions.
They managed to bounce back and beat the Patriots but the Eagles were just too dysfunctional on both sides of the ball to make the playoffs.
As a result, Chip Kelly got fired and former Eagles assistant Doug Pederson got the head coaching job. Pederson was the Kansas City Chiefs Offensive Coordinator for three years and he’ll hope to bring that kind of stability to the Eagles.
STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES
Offensive line, front seven, running back
One of the Eagles biggest strengths over the last couple of seasons has been their offensive line. They were in the bottom half of the league in terms of sacks allowed and they finished in the top half in rushing yards despite a desolate passing game.
The Eagles had to deal with letting go of Evan Mathis on their O-line but having Lane Johnson, Jason Peters, and Jason Kelce will be a big help going forward.
The Eagles have plenty of talent on defense but the stats don’t back it up and to be honest, they just didn’t make enough plays. Their front seven is littered with high draft picks like Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox, DeMeco Ryans, Kiko Alonso and even Bernie Logan.
This defense has no excuse to perform as poorly as it did. These players might not have been the biggest strength for this team in 2015 but they should in the near future.
This is another position that wasn’t exactly a strength for the team this season but it will be if they manage to keep DeMarco Murray.
Murray was a huge addition for the Eagles but the bottom line is that Chip Kelly barely used him like the Cowboys did. All Murray did was split carries with Ryan Matthews and Darren Sproles all season.
In fact, Ryan Matthews arguably had one of the more productive seasons of his career with Chip Kelly at the help.
It’ll be interesting to see how legit Murray is if he decides to stay. Either he was great because of the Cowboys offensive line or he’s capable of a being a great back no matter where he goes. With Doug Pederson coming in, Murray should be okay in year two.
Secondary, wide receiver
As mentioned earlier, this team was supposed to get much better in the secondary with the additions they made but they didn’t.
It became very clear early on that Byron Maxwell and Walter Thurmond had benefited greatly from having Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas having their backs.
Byron Maxwell had his hands full with trying to stop number one receivers all year and Thurmond got beat on plenty of occasions.
Their only bright spot was their draft pick out of Utah, Eric Rowe. He proved to be an athletic corner with the recovery speed and ball skills to compete at the NFL level. The Eagles need the guys they paid plenty of money to step up big time.
Chip Kelly made a wise decision two years ago when he basically forced DeSean Jackson out of town. Jackson is the type of player who puts the team before himself and Chip Kelly just couldn’t have that on a team that needed to buy into his philosophy.
However, he made a really bad decision by letting Jeremy Maclin walk away to the Kansas City Chiefs. Chip Kelly had a bit too much faith in Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and rookie Nelson Agholor. The Eagles may have to go get a big name receiver in free agency.
PLAYERS TO RE-SIGN:
QB Sam Bradford
SS Walter Thurmond
DE Vinny Curry
2016 FREE AGENT TARGETS ($21 MILLION PROJECTED CAP SPACE):
WR Alshon Jeffery
WR Brian Quick
QB Kirk Cousins
FS Eric Weddle
FS Eric Berry
CB Leon Hall
2016 NFL DRAFT FIRST ROUND TARGETS (NO. 13 PICK):
OT Laremy Tunsil (Ole Miss)
G Cody Whitehair (Kansas State)
DE Leonard Floyd (Georgia)
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NFC East: Dallas Cowboys